Saturday, November 27, 2010

waffle pudding, anyone?

Thanksgiving morning we hosted the first annual "Thanksgiving Vegan Waffle Breakfast." Yum! It was also like a kitchen housewarming party since it was our first gathering in our updated kitch.

We made tons of waffles, and ended up with about 2 quarts of leftover waffle batter. Friday afternoon we went to a Thanksgiving Leftover potluck (vegan!), and I knew I had to make use of the waffle batter somehow. But what to do with it, other than make waffles again?

Waffle bread pudding, of course!

Which did require actually making waffles. But Ryan was a ready helper (and waffle eater). We chopped up the waffles into bite-sized pieces, and then used the bread pudding recipe from Joy of Vegan Baking - except I cut out all the white sugar, and used only the brown sugar she calls for. I thought since the waffles were already sweet, all that sugar would be overkill.

This made the most aromatic bread pudding, and it was nice and moist. I highly recommend this as a fun way to use leftover waffle batter!

Friday, November 26, 2010

countertops finished!

The kitchen remodel took over all my extra bandwidth the past 10 days. But we are finally on the downhill slide and we are so happy with it.

We hired someone to spend a whole day sanding the countertops, and they were so smooth when he finished. Lots of the imperfections got sanded out and their beauty started shining through.

Once they had been machine sanded, we spent some time hand sanding them with a fine grit sandpaper.

and Ryan went around the edges with a machine sander to round them out.

for the finish, we used food-grade mineral oil. it's widely used for butcher block items, but when I read about mineral oil online it's hard for me to believe it is really food safe.

it gave the countertops a beautiful luster. for the final layer, we used beeswax, which isn't vegan. but i trust ryan to make sound judgments when it comes to eco-minded decisions for our home. he thought it would have the least environmental impact. i found making the beeswax paste to be tricky, and it was hard to apply it.

our countertops are all finished, and we love them, and i'm having a great time cooking and setting up everything. we had a little kitchen housewarming yesterday by throwing a Thanksgiving Vegan Waffle Brunch. Yum!

Monday, November 15, 2010

stripping and sanding, oh my!

i am getting to know these bowling alley lanes intimately. in order to use them as countertops, we needed to strip off all the existing finish, then sand them, and eventually we will seal them.

saturday afternoon i got busy with my lane. it took me an hour, 45 minutes to get one lane stripped of the finish (you can see the strands of old finish next to ryan's knee).

ryan got home and did his lane in 50 minutes. was it his experience or his brute strength that enabled him to do it so much more quickly? all i know is - my arms and back are still sore today from that DIY job!

for some reason (bad communication), the counters were installed in our kitchen BEFORE we got them sanded. argh!

i'll admit - once they put them in, i took one look and said, "these look like dirty old bowling alley floors." 

but, after having my moment(s) of despair and annoyance that our kitchen was going to get extremely dirty from sanding the maple lanes, i took up the power sander and got to it. 

look ma, gotta use my hands! seriously, never thought i'd be doing that. and deriving satisfaction from it! but it didn't do much for my sore arms and back. the first sanding has uncovered their beauty, and i'm looking forward to finally getting the seal/finish on them.

the dots - cute bowling lane detail 

onward and upward with our kitchen sprucing!

if you'd love your own bowling alley lanes for a home project, the rest of the wood from our bowling alley haul is being sold at Resource Conservation Group in LA.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

my forgotten garden

my poor little garden. with all the excitement of the kitchen spruce-up, the roof going on, and the bowling alley lanes arriving, I completely forgot about all my sweet little seedlings in my fall/winter garden.

the red chard was planted earlier this fall, and it is thriving despite my cold shoulder. so are the artichokes and fennel.

we've had weird fall weather (it rained in october!), and the nasturtium seeds sprouted. they are tiny and green and popping up all over the yard. they've never come up this early so i'm not sure what to expect as winter moves in. they seem so hopeful.

the trailing rosemary and basil plants are still in bloom, and the neighborhood bees just love the flowers. my iPhone camera doesn't do them justice but i'll share anyway.

after the roof is on and the countertops are installed, i'm hoping to get a few new raised beds in. we want to plant our blueberry bushes in them. i'd love to get the beds done and the blueberries planted by January. it helps me to have a goal! 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

bowling alley as countertops

we've been sprucing up the kitchen (new cabinets, paint color, sink) and we were hemming and hawing over eco-friendly countertop options. well, ryan was pretty certain from the get-go what he wanted - bowling alley lanes!

what? i asked. sounded crazy!

well, ryan does all sorts of crazy things and they turn out beautifully. he was invested in using reclaimed bowling alley lanes because
- maple countertops are beautiful and are often used in kitchens
- a great way to get a high quality, thick maple countertop with good history and character
- they are an existing material, nothing new needs to be manufactured
- sourced in the good ol' USA (Cougar Lanes in Omaha, Nebraska to be exact)

that convinced me, so we did it.

this morning at 7:30 the semi carrying an entire bowling alley worth of flooring pulled up in front of our house. what a way to start the day!

ryan needed to pick out which lanes would eventually become our countertops. here he is - king of the bowling lanes!

we definitely wanted pieces with the distinctive bowling alley marking.

these are 16 feet long and HEAVY! luckily, we are having a new roof installed, and the roofers graciously agreed to help ryan and andy (the trucker from knoxville, tennessee) move our two lanes.

ryan searched all over craig's list and found these lanes in omaha. he is so clever! we obviously don't need a whole bowling alley for ourselves (though we are planning to make an outdoor tabletop out of our lanes, too). ryan worked with Resource Conservation Group, they specialize in reclaimed lumber, wood flooring and custom-milled products. they figured out the shipping, and the rest of the load is on its way to them right now. if you're in LA and you are aching for bowling alley lanes for yourself - contact them!

we still have to strip, sand, and seal the lanes before they are cut and installed. but - they are here!

here's a pic of some beautiful countertops made out of reclaimed bowling lanes. i hope ours look as good.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the reveal

when we bought our house, it came ensconced in a layer of old siding. we knew there were original wood shingles underneath it, because they were exposed in one area of the kitchen. (kitchen was added in the '20s or '30s).

over the past two months, we've been slowly taking off the siding.

you can see the siding to the left of the window (painted yellow) and the wood shingles to the right (dingy gray). (we have a new roof going on, yay! hence the plywood on top.)

we feel like the house can breathe again! i love the look of the wood shingles.

for months, i've wondered what would be revealed on the front upper portion (OK - I know this has a name, but for the life of me I have no idea what it is called - help!). I was hoping, hoping, hoping it would have those sweet victorian scallops underneath and ...

yes!!! thrilling!!! I was dancing on the sidewalk when I saw what was underneath. hooray!!! we are so pleased with the general good shape of all the original shingles. i loved reading the siding adventures of an urban cottage. he gives me hope that we'll get our shingles scraped, puttied, and painted in a reasonable amount of time.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

more autumn orange

We grew a persimmon this year! Yes, one beautiful, deep orange, delicious persimmon.

Our tree is small, and I probably should have clipped off that persimmon when it was tiny. But it was so cute, and the pleasure and anticipation of a persimmon from our yard was too much and I let it grow. Hopefully it wasn't too much energy for our small tree.

And score one for us - we did get to share the persimmon before the raccoons or squirrels got to it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

crazy orange flower

I love these orange flowers. Problem is - I never know when the plant will bloom, and most of the year it is just a scraggly bush right in front of our house. It seems like it blooms when it wants to, with no rhyme or reason.

earlier this fall, I was almost ready to pull it out, but got busy with other things and didn't. And now I'm glad it's still there.

Today the color is glorious! eventually it will come out, because we have that spot ID'd for a row or two of blueberries. But for now, I'll enjoy the bright orange blooms against the deep blue November sky.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

vegan mofo, take 2

our generous friends kit and hannah invited us over for a super yummy vegan feast last night. we haven't had a working kitchen in a few days, and our tummies were ready for a delicious home-cooked vegan meal.

I was so excited about the menu (african peanut stew, brown rice, roasted root veggies, broccoli, and corn muffins) that i forgot to take any pics until the very end.

decorate your own sugar cookies. what a fun treat! they said suzanne and ro inspired this.

sugar cookies with orange frosting (hannah made it), topped with your choice of chopped almonds, dates, cranberries, mixed nuts, candied ginger.

yum, yum, yum.  thank you, kit and hannah!

four Ps for front yard farming - from freedom gardens

I love the philosophy of the Path to Freedom family. They have an urban homestead in Pasadena, and grow thousands of pounds of food on their property every year. They were part of our inspiration to create an edible landscape in our yard. 

Maintaining an edible landscape frustrates me on some days, and provides me so much joy on other days. I'm still figuring out placements for beds and growing. Someone told me that it takes at least five years to really discern what works where in your yard. 

The Path to Freedom Urban Homesteaders have a gorgeous front yard, edible garden. 

And Justin shares his four practical "P's" for front yard farming.

1. pretty – be conscious of your neighbors. First thing is you should ask yourself “would I live next door to me.”
2. productive – be innovative and use every square inch, be willing to try new edibles varieties
3. practical – use natural growing methods to conserve water and resources
4. personal – DIY and let your edible garden develop into an extension of your very own needs and desires
Seems pretty smart to me! 
You can read more about their amazing adventures on their blog

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

vegan mofo take 1

vegan mofo has officially started!

but i'm in the midst of a pretty huge kitchen reorganization, which includes having the walls painted and getting new lighting (woohoo), and all my kitchen things are scattered around the house.

this means my kitchen mofo mojo is pretty limited until next week-ish. but ... there are tons of vegan mofoers creating incredible, beautiful vegan food and posting it on their blogs.

like amey, over at vegan eats and treats. can you believe these "pretty and creepy" (her descrip!) sugar cookie skulls she made? she is a genius!

i dreamed of those cookies all night. hope your vegan mofo is great!

Monday, November 1, 2010

eye candy that's ethical

don't you love it when you fall in love with something that is beautiful, functional, and good for the planet?

and no, i'm not talking about my sexyveganecoman ryan.

my dear friend amy zurcher of shopscad turned me onto the artful lights created by tanya clarke of liquidlight.

from her website, tanya describes her work:
     Liquid Lights are custom built, industrial designed light installations that experiment with the fusion
     of art, function, and environmental consciousness. Liquid Lights create a visual reminder of the
     precious commodity that water is and our need to protect this natural resource. LED lights, recycled
     plumbing and hardware,  hand sculpted glass drops and found objects are incorporated to contribute
     to the zero footprint movement in the form of Liquid Light.       

and if that's not enough coolness, tanya donates 5% of the purchase toward education and action on global water issues.

for the past two years i've been involved in organizing a california water justice road trip for unitarian universalist young adults, so her art and action especially speak to me.

i can totally see one of these hanging in our kitchen. crossing my fingers we can make it happen!

lovely vintage exterior light

ryan loves salvage yards, and yesterday he came home with the sweetest exterior light.

Silverlake Salvage is one of his favorite haunts, and where he found this. we go in there and Ryan comes alive, and I feel like I'm gonna fall asleep. bless him for loving all the salvage yards. it saves us a lot of money, helps us stay green, and maintains character in the house.

can't wait til the light is installed!